Monday, 25 April 2011

Give a man a hedge trimmer...

The hedge along the driveway needed a trim.
We planted Duranta erecta "Sheenas Gold" along our driveway on either side. If you look up information on this plant you will read that it is attractive, easy to grow, ideal for hedges and forms dense foliage when trimmed.
It will grow well in very poor soil, does not need to be watered and doesn't require fertilising.

The only problem -  in our climate it is very fast growing. It needs trimming all the time. A few days after it's been trimmed, it needs it again. Because we have quite a long driveway, keeping the hedge looking decent is both time-consuming and back ache inducing.
Gradually the Sheenas Gold has been getting taller and thicker and the driveway has been getting narrower.

Ros: Give it a really good trim this time.

John: How much should I take off.

Ros: As much as you like.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens

On Sunday John and I had lunch at out local botanic gardens. The gardens are always interesting, plus the food and the company were excellent

It's a special place for us. We went there on our first date and, of course, when someone takes you to a garden for a first date you know he's a keeper.

The restaurant overlooks a lake filled with water lilies and birds

Looking back at the restaurant through the bamboo grove.

The climate in Brisbane is sub-tropical so we can grow quite a range of plants from tropical to temperate regions as long as you can create the correct micro-climate around them. I love seeing what will grow in our area. The gardens are divided into various zones - tropical, arid, cottage, temperate.

 In the temperate zone, the camelias were in full bloom.

The water in the pond was a bit muddy but the turtles didn't seem to mind.

The ferns have obviously enjoyed the Summer we have had this year. They were thriving.

There is a large glass dome housing tropical plants. I'd never seen cocoa beans growing before.

 Being close to home the growing conditions are similar to our garden so there are always lessons to learn.

I would love to know how they keep their cannas flowering. Ours have all finished for the season.

The Brazilian Red Cloak was covered in blooms - hope ours does as well when it matures.

Not sure if I liked the look of this however. I wonder if ours will get this big. 

Every Monday mosaic mad men and maidens meet at Mary's Dear little Red House. Check out the great mosaics.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Water, water everywhere

No, I’m not complaining about all the rain we’ve had or even the recent floods. I want to show you how we water Missy’s garden.

During the drought (which now seems so much in the past but was only a couple of years ago) we had very strict water restrictions and were encouraged to install rainwater tanks. We have three tanks and they hold more than enough water to look after the garden. Even though there is no longer a drought, the price of water has increased so having your own water supply has become a permanent benefit.

The tanks have electric pumps so we can water the garden from them. To make life even easier John ran irrigation hose from the tanks around the garden and put taps in each of the garden areas. This means not having to drag long lengths of hose to water the far reaches of the garden. Some have timers so we can attach sprinklers to them if we want and not be afraid of emptying the tank.

The latest addition has been a tap in my vege plot and one near Chookie World with a sink for washing your hands. That brings the total to nine taps from the tanks. Plus there are 4 connected to town water on the house but we rarely use these. Of course we can’t use all the taps all at once. The pumps aren’t that strong, but two or even three at a time is no problem.

It has made such a difference being able to water the garden with ease. With such a large garden using buckets and watering cans was back breaking work before we had this setup.

During Summer with all the rain we’ve had we’ve hardly watered at all but they will come in handy over Winter. Our tanks are all full so there should be plenty to see us through the drier months ahead.

We can water when and where we want and our water bill stays low.

Monday, 4 April 2011

A great weekend in the garden

Finally we had a bit of fine weather this weekend - in between showers. It was enough to get the vege patch up and running again. The weather was close to perfect for gardening. It wasn't too hot. It would stay fine for an hour or two while I planted then there would be a shower of rain to water in the new plants and for me to have a coffee. Then the sun would come out and off I'd go again.

I planted out the strawberry runners into a separate bed, also sowed some rows of seeds (carrots, spring onions, peas, beetroot and asian greens) directly, plus planted some seedlings from the nursery - dwarf beans, button squash, snow peas, broccoli, apple cucumber and mixed lettuce. The seeds I started a couple of weeks ago are starting to shoot, but I was too impatient to wait. There'll still be room for them. John picked up more garden soil to top up the beds we raised over summer so they are yet to be planted.
The damp weather has been great for the seedlings. Almost every one has sprouted. I didn't mark what was sown in each tube so it's going to be a lucky dip when it comes time to plant them out. Hopefully I will be able to recognise most of them by their leaf shape and guess the others.

 So the vege patch is on its way now. The procrastination is over and we'll soon be eating our own produce again. I'm looking forward to next weekend to finish planting. 

Just to show we aren't totally disorganised - the inside of the garden shed is looking all neat and tidy. Tools along the back wall. The mulcher and mower on one side and shelves on the other side. Bins in the corner for fertiliser and shedded paper (for the chooks' nesting boxes). So far it's been a whole week and everything has been put back in it's place after use - that's a record around here!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Autumn in full swing

Dichorisandra thrysiflora, Blue Ginger is in flower at the moment. It's not a true ginger but looks a bit like one. The best thing about this plant is that it grows so easily from cuttings. My brother had it growing in his garden so I brought a piece home one day. It's now dotted throughout the garden. It must have shade and it likes to be watered regularly in the warm months but otherwise is easy to care for. Generally I strike it in a pot but it will just strike poked into the ground as long as the conditions are right.

The frangipani will soon finish flowering and drop their leaves for Winter - just a few flowers left on each tree at the moment. Before they are all gone I took some pikkies of the different varieties around the garden.

It will soon be time to take cuttings from the frangipani. I like to wait until it's a bit cooler and the plant isn't actively growing to take cuttings. I've found this more successful. In the really hot weather the stem seems to shrivvel up rather than strike. It also helps to see where the tree should be pruned and shaped when they have less leaves. After the cut stem dries out a little by letting it lie on the ground for a few days, I plant them in a pot until next Spring when they can either be planted out in the garden or given away to friends. Most of my trees came from cuttings. (I love free plants) There's really no restriction on the size of cutting you can take either. I've struck some well over a metre long.
  Most of the heliconias except for the psittacorum have virtually finished flowering and are starting to look tatty. They need to be cut back. Once a stem has flowered it dies back and needs to be cut off at ground level. Cannas are the same. There were no canna flowers left worthy of a photo. They will need to be cut back as well and some of the clumps will be lifted and divided ready for next Summer.

The allamanda are still flowering but not for much longer. They need a good trim. The vines get rather wild by the end of Summer.

Lucky the weather is getting cooler because there is a lot to do in the garden at the moment. The weeds are still going strong. The veges are waiting to be planted and everything needs a good trim before the cool weather sets in.
There was a lovely surprise as I walked around though. My Brazilian Red Cloak, planted at the start of this summer, has started to flower.

While the garden still has some of it's Summer blooms left, I've linked to Noel at A Plant Fanatic in Hawaii where you can find tropical blooms from around the globe.


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